Frances Elizabeth Mamula passed away peacefully at her home in South Bend on September 12, 2023. She was 92 years old. Frances was born on July 22, 1931 in Ft. Worth, Texas to the late Joseph and Anna (Obal) Milan.
Frances is survived by her three children, Stephen (Eva) Mamula, Mark (Ann) Mamula and Missy (Chris) Kleva; grandchildren: Lindsay (Paul) Johnson, Katie (Mike) Raymo, Sarah Mamula, Nick (Maggie Belew) Kleva, Lexi (Brock) Logan, Tyler Kleva and Anthony Kleva; great-grandchildren, Bodie, Nellie, and Bevin; brother, Jerry (Henrietta) Milan; and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by husband, Emil; and her siblings and their spouses, Mary (Bill) Renfro, Joe (Carrie Belle) Milan, Jeanie (Wilbur) Mason, Frankie (Martha) Milan, Rosie (Donald) Steinman and Emil (Sally) Milan.
Frances attended North Side Senior High School in Fort Worth, TX, then onto Indiana University in South Bend where she took classes in physical education.
She always loved sports, being physically active, and was extremely competitive at whatever she did. She grew up in the American Sokol of Fort Worth, a Czech athletic organization that stressed “sound body, alert mind”. Her parents taught her to always be physically active, which she took a bit seriously. She was heavily involved in gymnastics and athletic exhibitions.
She became an avid Notre Dame fan, listening to every sports talk program and called in with questions, and watched every game, mostly standing in front of the TV. Being a member of the Notre Dame Quarterback Club for many years, she never missed a luncheon.
Frances was actively involved with the Marlin’s Swim Club, and was an official timer and turn judge during her son’s swimming career. She loved watching her children in all of their pursuits; including basketball, gymnastics, dance and music performances including those from her concert pianist and flutist son. Her calendar was filled, never missing a baseball, softball, hockey or volleyball game of her four local grandchildren, most often being the most involved fan. She even traveled to Connecticut for her other grandchildren’s swim meets and tennis tournaments.
Frances’ true passion was dancing with Emil, whom she danced with on their very first date and continued dancing with him until the very end of his life…63 years later. The kitchen floor made a perfect space for an impromptu dance. But any opportunity to dance was truly their favorite thing to do.
In all of her volunteering and fitness-minded focus, she helped many people in South Bend become physically active, and was often described as making such an impact on women helping them believe in their abilities and making time for themselves.
Anyone walking into Sports Illustrated Court Clubs or Pro Health in Mishawaka, where she was the Director, would most often be handed a racquet and she would personally take them to the court to introduce herself and share her love for the game. While there she ran racquetball clinics and member leagues for over 350 participants. She retired in 1995 after working there 17 years.
She was actively involved with the School Men’s Wives Club and was a life-long member. She held many roles, including President and Models chairman.
Frances attended the Bunt School of Modeling in Fort Worth, TX, and was one of 8 graduates from the school in 1947. She participated in numerous fashion shows, beauty contests, print, and newspaper campaigns all over Fort Worth. In her later years, she modeled for AAA Model in South Bend, and continued modeling into her senior years.
Frances was one of the first female racquetball players in the state, and in 1992, was one of the oldest, competitive women in the state. Playing handball originally, at the South Bend YMCA, she soon switched to racquetball. Within two years, she was competing in tournaments and went on to win a National Turners Championship; South Bend City Championship; Indiana State Doubles Championship; and YMCA Women’s Open championship, as well as many tournaments throughout the region. She played racquetball actively until well in her late 60’s and had a goal to play at the National Senior Tournament some day before she retired…and that she did.
In her later years, she loved playing Euchre and could be found at Turners or the Knights of Columbus playing in their weekly Euchre leagues, frequently winning. Truly competitive, she even showed no mercy when playing with her grandchildren.
Frances was a life-long member of the South Bend Turners. During that time, she won a Midwest Turner’s gymnastics tournament (three months pregnant), and was a Senior Woman gymnastics winner.
Frances volunteered for many events through the years including, YMCA committees, Run, Jane, Run tournaments, and Sportsmed 10K, American Cancer society’s first Annual Racquetball Open, Taste of Michiana, and Senior Games Coordinator.
Frances was also a lifelong parishioner of Little Flower Catholic Church.
Visitation for Frances will take place on Wednesday, September 20th, from 4-7 p.m. at the McGann Hay, Granger Chapel, 13260 SR 23, enter at Cherry Rd.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Thursday, September 21st, at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 52553 Fir Rd, at 11 a.m., with visitation beginning one-hour prior.
The Mass will be live streamed at http://st.pius.net
Burial will immediately follow at St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to The CASIE Center in South Bend, a child advocacy center, which helps kids in many different capacities. Fran’s granddaughter, Lexi Logan and grand puppy, both work there to help children and adults alike. 522 N. Niles Ave, South Bend, IN 46617 or www.casiecenter.org. Or to Heart to Heart Hospice, who were a tremendous help to Fran in her last years. 620 W. Edison Rd, #122, Mishawaka, IN 46545.